Grad Adds Animation Talent to New Film “Zootopia”

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Film & Production

March 4, 2016

Corey Bolwyn’s love for animation began when he was a child, playing the game Dragon’s Lair. “I was blown away by Don Bluth's character ‘Dirk the Daring,’” he says. Years later, Corey has helped to create movies that could provide that same inspiration to the next generation. Corey, a Character Technical Director for Walt Disney Animation Studios, has worked on Academy Award winning major motion pictures including “Big Hero 6” and “Frozen.” His most recent accomplishment is creating animation for the recently-released “Zootopia.” His role on the film was Character Technical Director and Technical Animator.

Corey is a graduate of The Art Institute of California—San Diego.* He earned a Bachelor of Science in Media Arts & Animation in 2008.

Finding Creative Ways to Work Together

Working as a member of the creative team, Corey was tasked with achieving the artistic vision of the film’s directors—while staying on time. “You have to find a balance between the highest quality possible versus knowing when to stop due to time constraints.”

Corey describes “Zootopia” as a very stylized film. “We had to hit very silhouette-driven shapes in our character’s performance. You can see this style in the art book and in the film. Besides the shape language, most of the characters had moving fur and clothes going over the fur. This makes life very challenging at times. The fur likes to come through the clothes—if you don't know what you are doing.”

Corey adds that some departments at Disney work more closely together than others. “I happen to be in a department that is very close, and we are all very technical and artistic. The two disciplines require that we collaborate closely and feed off of each other. If you don't, you won't last long.”

Watching the Industry Evolve

Corey has now been in the animation industry for eight years, and he believes that the biggest change in that time is the complexity of animation. “Technology allows us to create very hand-crafted films—literally anything you want to make. Even within our department there are so many varying disciplines where artists are experts. It really is quite fascinating.”

He says that it’s been difficult to watch many VFX and animation houses move or go out of business. “Times are good but yet they are very tough. Not everyone wants to live in Vancouver, London, or Georgia. It's a little unfortunate and I am very grateful to be working for Disney.”

Corey recommends that current students keep learning and growing. “Embrace the artistic vision and the technology that will push the art. Every film has its extraordinary challenges and none of them ever feel the same.”

* As of 2012, a campus of Argosy University


The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University, is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University, 7650 Mission Valley Road, San Diego, CA 92108-4423. © 2016 The Art Institutes. All rights reserved. Our email address is

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By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Film & Production

March 4, 2016

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